Derbyshire Conservatives hit back at Labour over criticism of care home closure plans

Derbyshire County Council’s ruling Conservative Group has hit back at Labour Councillors and accused them of hypocrisy following their criticism of proposals to close seven homes for older people within the county.

On 23rd January, the Council is due to consider a report which recommends the phased closure of the following seven homes:

  • Ladycross House, Travers Road, Sandiacre
  • Beechcroft, Nursery Avenue, West Hallam
  • East Clune, West Street, Clowne (including East Clune Day Centre)
  • Holmlea, Waverley Street, Tibshelf
  • The Spinney, Landsdowne Road, Woodlands, Brimington
  • Goyt Valley House, Jubilee Street, New Mills
  • Gernon Manor, Dagnell Gardens, Bakewell

In addition, the Council is to consider the refurbishment of the following three homes:

  • Briar Close House, Briar Close, Borrowash
  • Rowthorne, Rowthorne Avenue, Swanwick
  • New Bassett House, Park Avenue, Shirebrook

The proposals have come forward following extensive independent surveys which found significant defects in all 10 homes, with wide-ranging works required just to bring them up to modern standards. Several of the homes would need entirely re-wiring as a key priority to ensure the ongoing safety of residents.

However, even if these repairs were carried out at significant cost, some of them would still not be fit for purpose in providing the high-quality care that many residents would expect for their loved ones. For example, some do not have room for essential equipment, which can mean furniture needs to be moved in order for residents to be able to get about. In others, residents are still having to share toilets rather than having their own en-suites.

The Council must very seriously consider whether very significant expenditure on these homes is a good use of public money when the evidence suggests there is likely to be diminishing need for them in the future.

More information on the proposals and the work being done to reassure residents and families can be found on the County Council's website.

Local Conservatives have heaped scorn on Labour’s claims that maintenance programmes initiated by their administration had not been followed through.

Commenting, Conservative Leader of the Council, Cllr Barry Lewis said:

“The issues we currently face in our dilapidated care homes I firmly lay at Derbyshire Labour’s door for decades of underinvestment and no credible plans to provide decent, modern 21 st century standard, high-quality care facilities.

“I am saddened that we are in this position, this is not what we anticipated we would have to do, we intended to provide more of a range of high-quality care provision for Derbyshire residents. And we will deliver it but this means a deviation in how we intended to do it. However, I want to assure residents and carers in the affected homes that we will do our best to support them through these uncertain times.

“Labour’s gross failure to deal with our dilapidated care homes, some of which have potentially put residents at risk, has forced our hand. To illustrate this, in the Leader of the opposition’s own division, East Clune care home in Clowne, has electrical wiring that is 69 years old. Decades of underinvestment have led to this being a critical issue and mean we are having to look at potentially closing seven homes.  It is well known we spent years in opposition regularly highlighting the issue of ‘Crumbling care homes’ and telling Labour that they needed to tackle their poor state of repair and make them fit for the 21 st century. And they didn’t.

“Since taking control we’ve increased spending on maintaining these care homes, and we’ve committed to replacing Hazelwood Care home in llkeston. This home is in fact closing because of related structural problems that would cost too much to repair. To replace it we are building a brand-new care home at nearby Bennerley, where we are working hard to advance the plans and to begin construction as soon as possible. The county council has worked hard to mitigate the issues of safety in the affected homes by installing new fire alarms, fire doors and other preventative measures, rewired where possible and employed fire wardens to ensure the safety of our residents.  

“Between 2009 and 2013, when Conservatives were last in control following on from 28 years of Labour control and underinvestment in our care homes, we created a £200 Million pound replacement programme, to rebuild our care home infrastructure and provide 21 st century care for Derbyshire’s elderly residents, with a pledge that no home would close without one to replace it. This saw a number of fantastic new facilities like Meadow View care home in Darley Dale get built. However, this programme was binned by the incoming Labour administration and replaced with their woefully inadequate ‘Planned Maintenance Programme.’

“A report by Labour in 2015 can only be described as a surface scratch of the critical issues, which were missed, and the subsequent plan was so poor that it was akin to a sticking plaster on the Titanic. They also closed four homes during that time. In each year of their programme they made cuts to the property maintenance budget between 2014 and 2017 that totalled over £2,800,000; which effectively condemned the seven care homes they claim to care so much about.

“More recently, despite my efforts to work on a cross-party collaborative approach to tackling this issue Labour has made it clear there is no appetite to work together on this. Labour do not want to solve the issue they left us with – only play politics with it.  A subsequent leak to the media has caused worry and stress for employees and residents alike – the source can only be guessed at.

“Worth noting is the fact that the current Deputy Leader and contender for Leader of the Labour Group was the Cabinet Member for Adult Care until 2017, Cllr Paul Smith, and presided over this whole sorry affair.

“Labour have shown themselves to be a liability and a disaster to Derbyshire. Their gross incompetence – across decades - has cost taxpayers millions of pounds, jeopardised public safety and the quality of care in Derbyshire.”